Beowulf, the classic tale finally brought to animated life. Like an untended cookie jar, Beowulf has a beautifully tempting outside but when you reach your hand in all you get is crumbs under your fingernails.
Rowdy King Hrothgar's (Anthony Hopkins) kingdom is visited by an unspeakable monster, Grendel. Grendel (Crispin Glover) runs amuck, ripping people limb from limb for no reason more than drinking and merriment. King Hrothgar offers any hero who can kill Grendel half his country's wealth. Intrigued by glory and wealth, self-important Beowulf and fourteen of his men come from across the sea to kill Grendel. Beowulf doesn't know that glory and wealth won't be the only thing he gets.
Each of the animated characters looks just like the actor who plays him. At first I thought this would be annoying but after a while, I think it was the better choice. Instead of Anthony Hopkins' face popping into my mind while he's talking, my focus is on the story, undistracted by the famous voice. It also made the characters seem a little more realistic.
The animation in Beowulf is fantastically realistic when the characters aren't moving. There are several nude scenes that sent the audience into a tizzy. Angela Jolie, who plays Grendel's mother, is beautifully drawn nearly naked, spared from sheer buff exposure by golden flecks. It isn't until the characters want to do crazy things like run, walk or fight that you see the disjointed nature of the animation. The animators spent too much time on how the animation looked but not enough on how it moved.
All the animated booty doesn't make up for the fact that the plot required that your train of thought not be longer than a 3 year olds. There are more dangling plot lines than a pier in a stocked pond. It requires you already know the Beowulf story, woefully ignores character complexities, shallow characters, is chalk-full of extraneous characters, and plot doors left so open, spiders have taken up residence. There is one character in particular, Unferth (John Malkovich), who is built up and given more complexities than any other character in the movie, and Unferth's potential is dumped like a stinky diaper. There is a pan full of sizzle, but you leave the theater hungry.
I saw the IMAX in 3D version. There is an exorbitant amount of camera work to show how cool the 3D can be. It's too bad for Beowulf that we all have stomachs to be upset by the dinghy in a hurricane camera work and I haven't gotten my sea tummy yet. Just because you can do 3D doesn't mean you have to overdo it. You aren't directing Tammy Fae Baker's makeup!
Other than imagining sex with an animated character or a study in the potential realism of animation, there isn't much to Beowulf. Please, don't see the 3D version, it's not worth the extra dimension.
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